Sports can teach children many valuable lessons and be a great source of exercise and fun. They can, however, also have adverse effects. We don’t want to suggest the negative aspects of involvement in youth sports are guaranteed. Instead we want to mention some things parents should consider.
One of the points of consideration actually results from the misconception that kids should train at an early age and only participate in a single sport. The idea is that these two factors will make the child a more successful competitor. What actually occurs is a great increase in something called overuse injuries. Specialists in the area of sports medicine have found that kids focusing on only one sport are twice as likely to develop serious over-use injuries. Diversification helps a great deal and so does limiting the hours spent engaged in a single sport per week. Besides sports injuries, kids often experience burn out when they put excessive time and energy into one specific sport.
Now let’s look at the positive side of youth sports. They’re capable of building a child’s confidence and of revealing the positive results of being teachable. In a team sport, a child can learn life skills like teamwork, the importance of encouraging others, and leadership.
What role do you, as a parent, play in youth sports? Mom and Dad, you may not be the coach but your involvement is still vital. There will be ups and downs as your child participates and it will be your responsibility to teach the all-important skill of recovering from failure.
Keeping things in perspective is also an important parental task. It’s highly unlikely a young person involved in youth sports will go on to take part in college athletics (98 out of 100 high school athletes never play collegiate sports of any kind at any level). And only 1 in 16,000 high school athletes attains a professional career in sports. (Thank you Georgia Career Information Center, Georgia State University, Copyright 2006)
Parents, please don’t confuse pressure and demands with enthusiasm and support. Keep the goal in mind. The steps involved in raising a healthy, responsible adult who knows Christ may not look exactly like what it takes to raise a sports star-super athlete. Be certain to focus on what is truly important.